DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband's unwed 21-year-old sister purposely got pregnant. She lives with her boyfriend, who is 21 and unemployed, and she is two years away from her nursing degree, which she will most likely not be able to finish. They have been together for less than a year, are not financially stable and he still has not gotten divorced from his wife.
Needless to say, the family is concerned about her, but she is overjoyed and believes that everything is going to work out for the best.
When I learned that she was trying to get pregnant, I sent her a lengthy e-mail detailing all of the issues she would face if she had a baby right now. (My husband and I unintentionally got pregnant at a young age, before we had finished college.) We told her how we had struggled, but this e-mail did not faze her decision to have a baby. She expects everyone to congratulate her and that she is going to love the attention that she believes a baby will bring.
The family believes that she got pregnant for that attention, as well as to cement her relationship with her boyfriend. She claims that they are now going to get married, but he has not filed for a divorce.
She has commented that her parents will treat her children better than my husband's and mine and my nephews because they are hers. (My in-laws have not been involved with any of their four grandchildren.) She and her boyfriend have also made negative comments about me to her parents because of the advice that I gave her. I have since realized that they believe that they know everything and I should probably just sit back and let them figure it out for themselves.
My question is this: My sister-in-law does not have any sisters or close friends that will throw her a baby shower. My other sister-in-law will be expected to do this, but I don't feel that I should be responsible for it, especially after her comments. She never offered to throw a baby shower for me.
GENTLE READER: OK, you don't have to throw her a shower. Relatives are not supposed to throw showers. Does that settle things? Is everybody in this family now going to live happily together?
Miss Manners is concerned about all three generations. She would have thought that your having been in a similar situation -- pregnant when young and frozen out by the grandparents --would make you take a less high-handed tone. Now the most she hopes for is that you put aside your squabbles to welcome the baby wholeheartedly into the family.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the polite way to congratulate a usually successful coach whose teams performed unusually poorly this year? It seems mean-spirited to congratulate such a coach on his fourth-place finish in the most important racing event of the year, but it seems more so not to congratulate him at all.
GENTLE READER: "It's amazing what you did with what you had." Miss Manners suggests saying this when the team is out of earshot.